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Thread: Winter Ultralight Flying Advice

  1. #1

    Join Date
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    Winter Ultralight Flying Advice

    Okay I am just starting my second year of flying my Starflight Ultralight and I am looking for any winter flying advice that long time flyers may have. I bought a set of flannel lined jeans last winter after a 30 minute flight where I had trouble with my legs getting so cold that my knees hurt (I don't have knee problems otherwise). Also this year I tracked down a neck cover like skiers use as I was always having problems keeping a scarf tucked into my coat (and with the engine just behind me I had visions of a very nasty accident). Any other suggestions? I set a personal lower temp limit of 32 degrees and otherwise good weather.
    Bob

  2. #2

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    Jan 2012
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    Cotton long underware covered with quilted insulated long underwear and a wind breaker will last at least 30 minutes in below freezing temps. You need a good pair of fur lined gloves and insert a chemical hand warmer if you like. One of the bigger problems is getting overheated prior to takeoff. Hydrate sufficiently and do not allow any swetting or moisture within the clothing or you will chill prematurly. Prepare the airplane then dress for the flight. A good skimobile suit is another option but can be bulky and it is not necessarily designed for the wind.

  3. #3

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    I would think heated motorcycle gear would be acceptable. It's light weight, not bulky, and is designed for "wind". If you don't have 12V available, they make battery packs for it.
    There's also thermostats available.
    FYI. I was riding home from a dinner ride one evening. The OAT was 8 deg. F the wind was blowing 35 mph from the NW, I was riding west bound at 70 mph. I was wearing heated gloves, heated pants liner, and heated vest. I actually had to turn DOWN the temp, I was getting too warm!

  4. #4
    Rick Rademacher's Avatar
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    As the days become shorter and the nights longer, don't forget to turn the lights on!


  5. #5
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    As a 700 hour ultralight pilot, you couldn't pay me to fly once the air temperature gets below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That said....
    I would think heated motorcycle gear would be acceptable. It's light weight, not bulky, and is designed for "wind". If you don't have 12V available, they make battery packs for it. There's also thermostats available.
    FYI. I was riding home from a dinner ride one evening. The OAT was 8 deg. F the wind was blowing 35 mph from the NW, I was riding west bound at 70 mph. I was wearing heated gloves, heated pants liner, and heated vest. I actually had to turn DOWN the temp, I was getting too warm!
    ....this idea could change my mind if I ever went back to flying ultralights.

    Instead of a scarf, I would suggest a balaclava or a ski mask.
    Last edited by steveinindy; 12-07-2012 at 10:38 AM.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  6. #6
    Hello Bob and welcome to winter flying. The air is smoother and the plane climbs better. You can easily fly down to 32 degrees if you use snowmobile gear. It may cost some coin but will last for years. A good snowmobile suit will beat anything you can put together. Pick one big enough to wear layers under it. There are lots of choices on ski gloves. Feet are a problem for me so I choose thick insulated boots. Look at what the trike pilots wear. A full face helmet with a cuff under the face shield is available. Use a balaclava under the helmet tucked into the suit. I can't afford a heated suit and gloves so I use the chemical warming heat packs in gloves and boots. It's all worth it to catch those winter sunsets.

  7. #7
    falcon21's Avatar
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    My dad use to wear a CWU-1/P flight suit when flying his ultralight in the winter.

  8. #8
    I've flown my open-cockpit Fly Baby in ground temperatures down to 15 Degrees. The pilot is a bit more protected than your ultralight, of course.

    The two key points:

    1. No exposed skin anywhere
    2. Layers everywhere

    You can't just pull on a heavy coat or snowmobile suit; that outer shell will still get cold, and you need the intervening layers to slow heat transfer away from the inside. This means thermal underwear, wool shirt, sweatshirt, and the equivalent on your legs. Since the Fly Baby cockpit is pretty draft-free, I can get by with just long johns and jeans, but you'll need more.

    Keeping the wind off the exposed skin is vital. This is why one-piece snowmobile suits are good, since you wont have a gap in the middle for air to flow up (but you still need the layers underneath). Biggest problems will be the back of your neck, and the interface between your sleeves and gloves (ankles too, but if the ultralight has any sort of fuselage shell, they'lll be better protected).

    A ski mask or balaclava worn under the helmet will help take care of the cool-neck issue. Best combo I've discovered is a thermal T-shirt, with a turtleneck sweater and a flannel shirt, with the ends of the balaclava tucked under the turtleneck and the interface itself wrapped with a scarf.

    If you ain't sweating on the ground, it won't be warm enough in flight.

    Ron Wanttaja

  9. #9
    Here are a couple of sites that I stumbled across and bookmarked:
    http://www.activheat.com/
    http://www.sportflyingshop.com/Gear/...ing_suits.html
    If snowmobilers can ride all winter, why not fly all winter?
    Of course, pilots can't drink to make them believe that they're warm!

    Bill
    Your ignorance on a topic doesn't make me wrong. My ignorance may, however.

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